Neil Freeman

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Neil Freeman
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Neil Freeman

Postby Neil Freeman » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:04 pm

Having spent some time over the past few months browsing other peoples diaries, I though that it was about time I had a go myself.

I am still very much a beginner at taking photographs of butterflies, this year being my first proper attempt so to speak.

All photos in the following posts will have been taken with a second Hand Panasonic Lumix FZ38 that I picked up at the beginning of the year off ebay. At the moment I am still finding my way around the settings, I am mostly using the 'P' setting on the dial and experimenting.

Anyway, having had this week off work with some days being spoken for, helping my daughter to move into a new flat for one thing, I promised myself a couple of days butterflying.

First off was last Saturday at [b]Snitterfield Bushes [b] near Stratford upon Avon.

Here the stars of the show were Silver Washed Fritillaries with good numbers of males in evidence plus a couple of females including a beautiful Valezina var.
Also seen were a couple of White Admirals, several Commas and Red Admirals, loads of Meadow Browns and Hundreds of Ringlets. In an adjacent meadow were lots of Marbled Whites.

Snitterfield Bushes 02.07.2011 137 resize.jpg
Male Silver Washed Fritillary on Brambles.


Snitterfield Bushes 2011 07 02-094 resize.jpg
Nice Female Silver Washed Fritillary


Snitterfield Bushes 2011 07 02-104 resize.jpg
Female SWF Valezina var.


Snitterfield Bushes 2011 07 02-005 resize.jpg
Marbled White


Snitterfield Bushes 2011 07 02-117 resize.jpg
Marbled White with incoming.


More to follow.

Neil
Last edited by Neil Freeman on Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:01 pm

Monday 4th July - Fermyn Woods

Got up early and drove the 90 mins or so from my house to Fermyn getting there at about 09.30am. Parked by the gliding club after getting very useful directions from UKB member celery on his diary, many thanks for that.
I took a slow trundle through Fermyn and carried on across the fields into Lady Wood. Weather was a bit cloudy at first but by mid morning it had brightened up a bit. I must admit, I was bimbling around Lady Wood without taking much notice of my bearings until I suddenly realised I hadn't got a clue where I was. After a bit more wandering around I recognised one of the rides I had been on earlier, near to the southern side of the wood. It was along this ride that I saw the greatest number of Purple Emperors in one stretch, a least 6 different individuals. At one point I was watching 2 male PEs a Red Admiral and a Comma all sharing a spead out dried splatter of horse dung when another male landed on my trouser leg. Whoppeee...I had a photo like those I had seen on this site.

Fermyn Woods 04.07.2011 052 resize.jpg
Male Purple Emperor in Lady Wood.


Fermyn Woods 04.07.2011 097 resize.jpg
What does he think my trousers smell like?


After spending most of the morning wandering around Lady Wood, I slowly headed back through Fermyn.
At the Elm where celery said he saw a White Letter Hairstreak, I found a small group looking up and sure enough there was a WHL playing peek-a-boo in the branches.
Whilst we were looking at the WHL a PE came circling around and landed by a muddy puddle in the ride. There was some debate if this was a female whilst it had its wings closed but then it opened them and the guys around all agreed that it was a female.

Fermyn Woods 04.07.2011 134 resize.jpg
Empress - the first individual


A little later anther individual PE landed a bit further along the ride and there was another short debate whether this was male or female.

Fermyn Woods 04.07.2011 153 resize.jpg
Empress or Emperor?


If any of the Purple Emperor experts on here could confirm the above one way or another I would appreciate it.

Also saw a few White Admirals and a couple of Silver Washed Fritillaries as well a a number of Purple Hairstreaks flittering high up over the Oaks.

Fermyn Woods 04.07.2011 137 resize.jpg
White Admiral impersonating a Purple Emperor


Neil.

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Lee Hurrell
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Re: nfreem

Postby Lee Hurrell » Fri Jul 08, 2011 7:55 am

Hi Neil,

My vote for image 4 would be an Empress.

Cheers

Lee
To butterfly meadows, chalk downlands and leafy glades; to summers eternal.

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Re: nfreem

Postby dilettante » Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:21 am

nfreem wrote: after getting very useful directions from UKB member celery on his diary, many thanks for that.


Actually I think it was me, wasn't it? :-) Glad you had a successful trip. Lovely photos.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:41 am

Oops, sorry dilettante, my apologies....it was indeed you :oops:

Many thanks for that.

That just shows that I shouldn't be posting late at night after spending all day shifting furniture, I get :?

Cheers,

Neil.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:51 am

Lee Hurrell wrote:Hi Neil,

My vote for image 4 would be an Empress.

Cheers

Lee


Thanks Lee,

I was leaning towards it being female but there was just enough about her to give me doubts.

The thing is, you read about females supposed to be so much more reclusive and not coming to the ground like males and there we were with two females on the ground more or less at the same time and in the same area.

Cheers,

Neil.

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Re: nfreem

Postby celery » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:58 am

dilettante wrote:
nfreem wrote: after getting very useful directions from UKB member celery on his diary, many thanks for that.


Actually I think it was me, wasn't it? :-) Glad you had a successful trip. Lovely photos.


I don't might taking the credit for things I didn't do! (as long as they turn out all right) :D

That's a very useful map created by dilettante. Incidentally, just a tiny bit further on from the bottom push-pin is the north-south-running ride known as BB's Purple Emperor Avenue - where, throughout the 1970s, Denys Watkins-Pitchford released his captive-reared PE's to help re-introduce them to the area. (Information gleaned from David Newland's excellent 'Discover Butterflies in Britain'.)

I'm enjoying this diary very much nfreem, and looking forward to the next instalment. :)
Six day weekends, one day pauses.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:22 pm

Thanks for the comments celery, I have been out a couple of times since Monday to more local spots.
I will post more when I have sorted through the photos.

I think that the North / South ride that you mention is where I ended up when I lost my bearings.
It was along here that I saw most of the male PEs including the one that settled on me :D

Cheers,

Neil.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Fri Jul 08, 2011 8:44 pm

Tuesday 5th July - Ryton Wood.

The original plan for today (Tuesday) was going to have me helping my daughter move into a new flat but, as these things so often happen, there was a last minute hold up that meant that she could not pick up the keys for another 24hrs.

This meant that I had a bit of time spare and so I had a quick check of the weather forecast and, seeing that the showers should hold off until later in the afternoon, decided to head over to Ryton Wood just south of Coventry.

I arrived late morning and had a good couple of hours wandering through the wood and into the adjacent meadows that make up the Warwickshire BC reserve before it clouded over and started raining.

Photo opportunities were limited as nearly everthing that I saw was very mobile and nothing settled for long. These included 5 Silver Washed Fritillaries, 3 White Admirals, 2 White Letter Hairstreaks and a single Purple Hairstreak.
Also seen were 5 Red Admirals a couple of Small Tortoiseshells a fresh Peacock and good numbers of Large and Small Skippers, Marbled Whites and Meadow Browns. Also hundreds of Ringlets. Everywhere that I have been in the Midlands lately there have been hundreds of Ringlets, they are certainly having a good year.

Unfortunatlely it seems that, in the Midlands at least, White Admirals seem to be having a bit of a poor year. Most places that I have been to where I would expect to see them, they have been there but only in small numbers. Reading in 'The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland' by Thomas & Lewington, it states that WA numbers are influenced by the weather in June and certainly around here the past couple of Junes have not been too good.

Anyway, some piccies below that I did manage.

Ryton 05.07.2011 007 resize.jpg
Male Silver Washed Fritillary


Ryton 05.07.2011 001 resize.jpg
Male Silver Washed Fritillary


Ryton 05.07.2011 002 resize.jpg
Red Admiral


Ryton 05.07.2011 003 resize.jpg
Large Skippers mating in the brambles


Ryton 05.07.2011 014 resize.jpg
Marbled White in the Meadow


Cheers,

Neil.

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Re: nfreem

Postby Mark Colvin » Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:59 am

Hi Neil,

nfreem wrote:All photos in the following posts will have been taken with a second Hand Panasonic Lumix FZ38

You're producing some really nice shots. I'm using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ45 and really like the camera. I'm interested to know if you are using your FZ38 with a close up lens and adaptor or whether your pictures have all been taken without additional lenses?

Keep up the good work.

Kind regards. Mark

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Sat Jul 09, 2011 8:25 am

Hi Mark,

At the moment all shots are taken with the camera as it is, usually at between 10x - 18x zoom from about 1m - 1.5m away. I find that this works well for larger subjects such as the SWF but can give me focusing problems for smaller butterflys like the skippers when you automatically move close to try to fill the frame better.

I have got an official Panasonic close up lens and adapter on order and will post some results when I have given this a go.

Cheers,

Neil.

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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:20 am

Meanwhile,

Thursday 7th July - Elmdon Park Nature Reserve.

A bit of a cloudy, showery day but with a few brief sunny spells, I decided to nip out to have a look around a nature reserve at the back of one of my local parks. This is only 5 mins drive from my house, in fact I keep meaning to get hold of a bike to get around these local places....and to get the belly down a bit :wink:

Anyway, I wanted to see if there were any Essex Skippers out around here. There were quite a few small orange skippers flying about so decided to get as many head on shots as I could, easier said than done when they kept sttling amongst the grass.

First off some Small Skippers,

Elmdon 07.07.2011 008 resize.jpg
Male Small Skipper


Elmdon 07.07.2011 009 resize.jpg
Female Small Skipper


Elmdon 07.07.2011 010 resize.jpg
Female Small Skipper


And after a bit of seaching, an Essex Skipper.

Elmdon 07.07.2011 004 resize.jpg
Essex Skipper


And to finish off, a female Meadow Brown, just because I don't often manage to catch them with their wings open.

Elmdon 07.07.2011 001 resize.jpg
Female Meadow Brown


Cheers,

Neil

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:37 pm

Saturday 9th July.

The close up lens and adapter for my Panasonic FZ38 arrived this morning so I was eager to get out and have a go with it fitted.

Just after midday the sun was shining so I thought I would take a drive to Oversley Wood. B***er me, 30 mins later when I pulled into the car park at Oversley it had clouded over and gone a bit dull and breezy.
I spent a couple of hours bimbling round the wood but the weather had put the mockers on it a bit with a just a couple of occasions when the sun briefly peeked through

Nevertheless, all the usual suspects were seen including Silver Washed Fritilaries, a couple of White Admirals, Purple Hairstraks flittering about high above the oaks, as well as the ubiquitous Ringlets, Meadow Browns, Whites (GV and Small) and Skippers.

Piccies below taken whilst getting the hang of the close up lens. All as taken by the camera apart from a resize and a crop for the portrait format ones.

09.07.2011 012 resize.jpg
Female Small Skipper


09.07.2011 031 resize.jpg
Male Small Skipper


09.07.2011 024 resize.jpg
Female Meadow Brown


09.07.2011 027 resize.jpg
Another Female Meadow Brown - despite me saying I don't often catch them with wings open


09.07.2011 036 resize.jpg
Male Silver Washed Fritillary


Back on Family duties tomorrow, cooking the Sunday Dinner. Then back to work on Monday so that will probably be it for me until next weekend.

Cheers,

Neil.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:41 pm

Well I managed to get out this afternoon after all.
I did a deal with the boss (my Wife :wink: ) to cook the Sunday dinner early thus giving me time to get out for the Warwickshire BC walk at Snitterfield Bushes this afternoon.

Starting on the southern side we made our way through to the meadow by the gliding club where Marbled Whites were in abundance as well as a few Brown Argus, some fresh Peacocks, Large, Small and GV Whites and a single Gatekeeper, my first of the year.

Moving to the Northern side, Silver Washed Fritillaries were abundant, a good 20 - 30 must have been seen including at least 2 different individuals of Valezina. Also a number of Red Admirals, Commas and fresh Brimstones including a few females.
Unfortunatly our hopes of White Admirals were not to be realised, they are certainly not very abundant in Warwickshire this year.

Still, it was an enjoyable few hours, and gave me a chance to get some more practice with the close up lens on my lumix.

Snitterfield 10.07.2011 025 resize.jpg
Nice fresh Peacock


Snitterfield 10.07.2011 035 resize.jpg
Marbled White


Snitterfield 10.07.2011 036 resize.jpg
Brown Argus


Also seen were a number of Dragonflies including Southern Hawkers and Ruddy Darters. I am not at all clued up on these, they were Identified by others in the group.

Snitterfield 10.07.2011 013 resize.jpg
Ruddy Darter Female - I think.


Snitterfield 10.07.2011 023 resize.jpg
Ruddy Darter Male


Cheers,

Neil.

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:13 pm

Tuesday July 12th,

I got in from work and looking out into the back garden noticed a couple of Speckled Wood spiralling around above the lawn. I have a small resident population of these that I see every year and this was the first of the summer appearance that I had noticed, the last of the spring brood disappearing a few weeks back. I grabbed my camera and went out to wait for one of them to perch on one of the border shrubs.
After a few minutes one of them obliged and posed nicely for a couple of shots before taking off again to patrol his territory. Just as the books say he was not as bright as his predecessors in the spring with noticeably smaller yellow patches on his wings

Coverdale 12.07.2011 010 resize.jpg
Speckled Wood Male - Summer brood


Heres one I took earlier back in April.

Coverdale Rd 2011-04-26-27.4 015 resize.jpg
Speckled Wood Male - Spring brood


Just as I was about to go back inside, a movement out of the corner of my eye attracted my attention to a Red Admiral that circled around the garden before landing on a rather straggly Buddlia that I keep meaning to replace.

Coverdale 12.07.2011 022 resize.jpg
Red Admiral


Also saw a couple of Whites that didn't stay long enough for positive ID and a couple of Holly Blues fluttering around the Ivy before disappearing next door.

Bye for now,

Neil.

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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:20 am

Saturday 16th July,

Torrential rain yesterday morning here gave way to showers and eventually some sun in the afternoon. I decided to chance it and nipped down the road to one of my local spots, Sheldon Country Park next to Birmingham airport.

Looking at the skies I thought I would have a quick circle around to see what was about before the next ominous looking black clouds would blow over. During the next 30 minutes or so I spotted a couple of Commas, 1 Red Admiral, 1 Small Heath, A few Meadow Browns and Ringlets and a couple of Gatekeepers. That doubled the number of Gatekeepers I have seen so far around here, they are only just emerging.

16.07.2011 009 resize.jpg
Gatekeeper - Male


I was also on the look out for Common Blues and Small Coppers, as I know both species are at this site, but no sign so far. Another week or so probably for these as I know we are usually a bit behind the emergences down south.

Heres hoping the weather bucks up a bit soon.

Bye for Now,

Neil

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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:08 pm

Saturday 23rd July.

After a bit of a cloudy and damp week, the sun came out this afternoon so I went out to one of my local spots to see what was about.

Before I even left, this chap was sitting in the front garden on one of my Buddleias.

Coverdale 23.07.2011 001 resize1.jpg
Red Admiral on Buddleia


The spot that I was heading for is a small number of set aside fields linked together with hedgerows with some mature Oaks and Ash. On arrival it was soon apparent that there had been a mass emergence of Gatekeepers over the last few days...they were everywhere, hundreds of 'em, with males outnumbering females about 10:1.
I didn't notice at the time but looking through the photos afterward there is quite a variation in the number of spots on the males.

I saw a couple like this one.

Castle Hills 23.07.2011 004 resize.jpg
Gatekeeper - male with extra spots.


Most were like this chap

Castle Hills 23.07.2011 010 resize.jpg
Gateeper - typical male


And some had no spots on the hind wings.

Castle Hills 23.07.2011 011 resize.jpg
Gatekeeper - male with no spots on hindwings


Along with loads of Meadow Browns and Small Skippers, there were also half a dozen Peacocks nectaring on patches of thistles plus I also saw a couple of Small Coppers, the first of the summer brood that I have seen around here.

Castle Hills 23.07.2011 037 resize.jpg
Peacock


Castle Hills 23.07.2011 092 resize.jpg
Small Copper


Castle Hills 23.07.2011 094 resize.jpg
Small Copper


No sign of second brood Common Blues, first brood were plentiful here so I guess they should be out soon.

All in all a pleasant couple of hours.

I was just sitting at the PC going through the photos taken this afternoon when, looking out into the back garden, I saw something flying around in the early evening sunshine.
Grabbing the camera I went out and found this chap trying to sun himself and getting 'buzzed' by a Speckled wood.

Coverdale 23.07.2011 001 resize.jpg
Red Admiral in evening sun.


So, a Red Admiral to start and one to finish.

Bye for now,

Neil.
Last edited by Neil Freeman on Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: nfreem

Postby Wurzel » Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:23 pm

Some cracking shots Neil! :D
I too have noticed alot of variation in the spotting of Gatekeepers recently - both in the males and females. Mike Oxen got in touch with me on my personal diary with a list of the taxonomic terms for some of these variations so I'll do a post with mine and see if you can match them up!

Cheers, have a goodun

Wurzel

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Neil Freeman
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Re: nfreem

Postby Neil Freeman » Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:48 pm

Hi Wurzel, thanks for your comments,

I have just had a look at your diary, interesting about the variants named after the number and postion of the spots.
Its quite amazing really, I have seen Gatekeepers around for years and never noticed the variations until today. It just goes to show how the more common species can be taken for granted sometimes.

Cheers,

Neil.

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Wurzel
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Re: nfreem

Postby Wurzel » Sat Jul 23, 2011 8:14 pm

I've just put a thread up for Gatekeepers so if you could add yours that would be great! I know what you mean about not noticing the variations before - I've spent ages looking through them today despite finding my first ever Grayling this afternoon! :shock:
Have a goodun

Wurzel


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